Editorial

We hope that Mr Christopher 'Dudus' Coke will sing his heart out

Thursday, September 01, 2011    

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The instinct of the Jamaican people about former Tivoli Gardens strongman, Mr Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, was correct all along.

His guilty plea on drugs and weapons-smuggling charges before United States District Judge Robert P Patterson of the Southern District of New York yesterday merely confirms what perceptive people had known, seen and felt, and had tried to warn the Bruce Golding administration about.

US prosecutors alleged that since 1990 Mr Coke controlled a drug ring from Tivoli Gardens in West Kingston. While cocaine and marijuana were sent into the US, often using female couriers, investigators alleged that guns and other firearms were sent from the US to other drug dealers in Jamaica. They claimed to have wiretap information, informants and other evidence allegedly linking Mr Coke to drug dealing dating back to 1994.

Tenuously but strenuously holding onto a legal technicality, the administration resisted with might and main the US's attempts to have Mr Coke extradited, from August 2009 to June 2010.

During that time, it flatly told the Jamaican nation that its desire to yield to the extradition request was unconstitutional and wrong. The people were very willing to have that tested in the Jamaican courts, but that too was thwarted by the steely resolve of Mr Golding's faithful Justice Minister and Attorney General Dorothy Lightbourne.

The first sign that Mr Coke did not want his business drawn out before the Jamaican people was his willingness to have others give their lives for him; followed by his decision to waive his extradition hearing and surrender to US authorities.

We felt then that Mr Coke might be willing to call names of powerful people and that he might even have been fearing for his life here, hence his decision to surrender to the Americans.

Although we were gearing for the trial to start on September 12 in New York -- as previously scheduled -- the announcement yesterday by Mr John P Gilbride, special agent in charge of the New York Field Division of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, and United States Attorney Preet Bharara for the Southern District of New York, that Mr Coke had pleaded guilty on two accounts, did not come as a surprise to us.

The US Embassy said the former 'Shower Posse' leader pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy and one count of conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering. He is to be sentenced by Judge Patterson on December 8, 2011.

Between now and then, we hope that Mr Coke will 'sing like a bird', naming names and pointing fingers. In a small society such as ours, it is not possible for Mr Coke to have been able to run such a 'successful' organisation without the involvement of well-placed individuals in both the public and private sectors. Not to mention the beneficiaries of his nefarious activities.

Among the 73 people who died by official count are people whose blood cries out for justice. Someone must account for the trauma suffered by this nation, particularly during the security forces' operation to flush out thugs from Tivoli Gardens, and for the severe battering that our national image and economy took internationally.

Sing, Mr Coke, sing your heart out.

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